This summer, I took a break.
Like many of us, I’d spent the month of May buried in mountains of This is Unprecedented. Writing about it became harder and harder. Paragraphs of incoherent worry and capital letters strewn with confusion. My friend Amy said that one day, I”ll want them, so I’ve saved them.
But for now, whenever I stepped back to read what I’d written, I can’t see myself posting them. I could see my opinions and attitude was constantly shifting and evolving, and what I would write one hour would change from the next.
What I saw in my writing were people I didn’t recognize—other versions of me, people I recognized from my past and people I could see being in my future. Am I survivor? Am I a fighter? Am I a Christian? Am I to be a mother? Am I an activist? Am I to be a wife? Am I to be a leader, or a follower?
What am I made of? All of this because… when push comes to shove, and COVID circles closer to your loved ones, I want to rely on myself. Because who else? There were so many questions to answer, externally and internally. Many of which are still hovering in the air.
Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer lifted the Stay-at-Home Order in our state on June 1st. We slowed down. We played games, we went up North, we started planning for a fall where we might get married. We started to carefully, physically distantly, see each other. We did quiet math to count up our risks and even more quietly evaluated other people’s mathematical proofs to decide who we could let into our circle. We prayed for the lost ones and deliverance for the rest of us.
We were so optimistic and so careful in our pod, which made July a hot and bitter pill to swallow.
It was clear the first week into July that we were going to take two steps back, here in Michigan. We were still talking about masks and their effectiveness, even in our own families, and making a thousand micro-decisions a day.
Meanwhile, we watched as friends, cities and even entire states fall into a sort of alternative universe about what was Really Happening.
And now, we’re peering into August. I’m turning thirty. The pause button’s been pressed twice, and we’re looking into a school year of epic unknown.
But it’s not all bad news bears.
Certainly, there is a lot of bad news. Mostly bad, actually. I have so much yet to learn about how to process what I can, resist against and change what I can.
This is a new decade for me and all the 1990s babies out there. Beth likes to remind me that in some countries, we were 30 at the moment of January 1st, but these attempts to keep me humble and not declare a birthday month are woeful.
It’s my birthday month! So let’s start out with some gratitude.
I’m grateful for my job. I’m grateful for Beth’s job. I’m grateful for our home.
This should’ve been first! I’m grateful for Beth and all that she does for us.
I’m grateful to my family and friends, who have weathered these times with us. We stay in touch, we do our best, we care for each other… it’s been beautiful and extra meaningful.
I’m grateful for my medicine and access to what I need for my mental and physical health.
I’m grateful for all this time we’ve been spending in our home, making it a home. It’s not usually top of my priority list—I’m not a natural nester. But I’m growing more and more fond of our garden and the quirks of our home, which makes everything seem less like a chore.
I’m grateful for our church, which we found this year before the pandemic, and how they’ve helped me rekindle a faith in humanity, in community and in goodness and in God that I’ve been missing.
I’m grateful for all the essential workers who are making it easier to stay home and safer when we need to go out. They are heroes and as this stretches out longer, we need to remember to care for them.
I’m grateful for the time spent enjoying hobbies! I’ve returned to video games and writing, at first as therapy. I remember what it is to be very interested in doing something not because it’s productive, but just because it’s enjoyable.
I’m grateful for Naga, whose puppy energy brings us joy, and Scout & Jem, who test our patience, but probably do more to teach us about empathy and grace.
And I’m trying to be grateful for myself, too.
In my thirties, I would like to continue to dismantle self-loathing and anxiety about Am I Good Enough? I want to stop erasing my mistakes and acknowledge them instead.
I want to embrace what I see as “hypocrisy” in myself—there are many things I hold in my head as binary that shouldn’t be. A lover or a fighter? (Both.) A Christian or a scientist? (Both.) A career woman or a mom? (Both.) A leader or a follower? (Both.) Am I serious or am I fun? (Both.)
I want to view myself on these scales as spectrums, in three-dimensions, and like in meditation, accept myself as I am in that given moment.
This is how I hope Year 30 starts for me. Not trying to be everything or all of one thing, okay? And it wasn’t a bad thing that I tried to do be always loving, always fighting, always faithful, always skeptical, always working, always leading, always following, always always always. I enjoyed trying to be always.
But I have learned what I needed, I believe, and it’s time to move on. Sometimes. 💕